Fall has always been a special time on Vancouver Island. The heat of summer begins to dissipate, the rain returns, the leaves on the trees begin to change, and the wildlife begin their frenzied preparations for winter. For the many species of pacific salmon, fall also marks the beginning of their spawn, the time when they return to the rivers and streams of their birth. It’s an amazing journey from salt water to fresh water, and one that we’d like to experience first-hand!
Salmon making their way up the Nanaimo river
There are many places to get a good view of the salmon spawn but the best vantage point has to be on the water itself, with the salmon swimming and sometimes leaping right beside you! Living Forest Campground marks the spot where the Pacific Ocean meets the Nanaimo River, making it the ideal place to witness the spawn. Here, not only do you experience the excitement of the spawn, you will also inevitably witness other wildlife being drawn to the shores. During this time, it is not uncommon to see birds of prey like eagles, vultures and owls abandoning their usual hunting and sleeping patterns in order to take full advantage of this annual feast.
We’ve decided to once again host our Paddling With the Salmon event at Living Forest Campground with some help from Brackish Adventures and Sundown Diving. Snorkel, paddle board or kayak along with the spawning salmon! With equipment, instructors, and lunch all included, the dates for this experience have been set as September 29 and October 6, 7, 13 & 20 to give you more opportunities to join us. Be sure to follow us on Instagram & Facebook for the latest updates!
When it comes to fresh, local ingredients and delicious dining experiences, there’s nothing that pairs better than beautiful, outdoor spaces. This was the basis that formed our Off the Eaten Path dinner series. This farm to table venture has truly been one of the highlights of our summer season. As the third and final dinner of the year, we decided to do something different.
Shot of a Nanaimo River Coho Buck
This change of pace was inspired by the changes that September brings. A change in the temperature, in the foliage, and in the local wildlife. Most notably, the spawning salmon that make the journey from salt water to fresh water, travelling up the Nanaimo river each year in order to reach the place of their birth. This annual event has marked a time of harvest for thousands of years.
We’re partnering again with Farm’s Gate Foods & Catering in this family-style dinner event. And in an effort to provide the ideal natural environment for this event we’re hosting it in the beautiful confines of Living Forest Campground, which is situated at the point where the ocean meets the Nanaimo River. This junction is the ideal place to view the salmon as they travel towards their destination, continuing a cycle that means so much to our ecosystem.
View From Living Forest Campground Overlooking the Ocean
If you would like to participate in our salmon feast, be sure to follow us on facebook and twitter for the latest updates. Want to take this experience a step further? Why not join us for our annual Paddle With the Salmon event which will also be hosted at Living Forest. Be sure to follow us on Instagram and Facebook for the latest updates.
Whether you’ve lived on the west coast your whole life or you’re coming here for the first time, you’ve gotta try the fish! What better place to do so then at the largest salmon cannery in all of southern BC? St. Jean’s Cannery is well-known for their wild salmon, both smoked or candied. They come in a variety of flavors, making their gift shop well worth the visit. In addition, St. Jean’s has a variety of other seafood products such as shellfish, tuna, chowder and sauces, just to name a few.
St Jean’s was founded by Armand St. Jean, a young man from Quebec that made his way out to Vancouver Island with his family in the 1950’s. In the smoke house he built himself, Armand would often smoke oysters using techniques he learned back east. He would then package the oysters and sell them at local bars to hungry patrons. It didn’t take long for this small enterprise to grow into a proper cannery.
Armand St. Jean
Armand continued to run the business alongside his sons, and after a showcasing their products at Expo ’86, the family was able to open a larger facility. St. Jean’s also expanded their depots on the mainland and made connections with the sport fishing lodges along the coast. After purchasing Raincoast Trading, a brand dedicated to sustainable fishing practices, the majority shares in St. Jean’s were purchased by a group of five West Coast Nations. The Nuu-chah-nulth Nations have always played a dual role as both stewards and participants in Vancouver Island’s seafood economy, and their values of sustainability were shared by St. Jean’s, leading to a fruitful partnership.
Cheers to a new partnership
Today St. Jean’s continues to build upon their reputation for sustainable, quality seafood. On their website you can purchase frozen or canned seafood products that are guaranteed hand-packed. However, their facility in south Nanaimo is well-worth the visit. The Smokehouse gift shop provides their full range of products, including a host of gift options. If you’re lucky, you might get a sample or two!